The Vatican on Thursday worked to set the record straight on whether Pope Francis denied the existence of hell in an interview with a well-known Italian journalist.
“There is no hell where the souls of sinners suffer in eternity”, Pope Francis was quoted as saying in a Thursday interview with Italian daily La Repubblica.
Pope reportedly added: “After death, the souls of people who repent are pardoned by God and join in his contemplation, but those who do not repent, and therefore cannot be pardoned, disappear.
“Hell does not exist – what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls.”
The Pope was interviewed by 93-year-old veteran Italian journalist and atheist, Eugenio Scalfari, who regularly muses about faith and religion, and enjoys access to the leader of the Catholic Church.
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In the past, the veracity of quotes Scalfari attributed to the Pope has been called to question, especially after he admitted to never using a tape recorder during interviews.
Reacting to this, the Vatican said: “What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted.”
“No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
The Catholic News Agency also reported that Scalfari has “misrepresented” the pope in the past. The agency reported that Scalfari “aslo falsely reported that Pope Francis had made comments denying the existence of hell in 2015.”
According to Catholic Church teachings, there is a hell and it is for eternity.
“Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs,” according to CNA.